Sawatsky Sign-Off: Good News

Hi Folks: If you’ve read our posts you know that this is our 9th year of hugging tourists and locals down at Victoria’s inner harbour, and that so far we’ve hugged ambassadors from at least 77 countries. Outside of that, however, we lead pretty quiet lives … so we were both shocked and delighted to receive a phone call a week ago from Adam Sawatsky, who works with CTV News, Vancouver Island. At the end of their news broadcasts they feature short segments of good news and uplifting people, giving their viewers an opportunity to head into their evenings with a positive outlook. These segments are collectively known as the Sawatsky Sign-Off.

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Names That Remain

Hi Folks:

So far this summer we’ve been keeping a pretty regular schedule going out hugging on Sunday afternoons. We’ve now hugged Ambassadors from 77 countries (that we know of); 55 countries this year alone! As we’ve mentioned, we’ve hugged people in sadness and we’ve hugged people in joy and everywhere in between. While we were out again yesterday, the previous Sunday (August 5) brought several things together for us.

The first was a blog post written by author Robert Fulghum, entitled “Names That Remain” (yes, we stole his title for this post). You can read it for yourself; we’ll wait. Continue Reading →

Nine Years of Hugging…

Hi Folks:

When we took our first foray down to Victoria’s Inner Harbour in June, 2010 to try sharing hugs with strangers, we had no idea where our adventure would lead us. We were terrified at first, but nine years later, we’re still going strong! In fact we’ve held more free hugs sessions this year than ever before! In 2017 we had 20 sessions; our first was on April 1 (it seemed appropriate) and our last was on December 12. So far this year we’ve held 14 sessions; our first was on March 10 and we’re planning to continue for as long as we can!

In 9 years we’ve shared hugs, stories, smiles, tears, high-fives, waves and so much more with thousands of people from 75 countries (of which we are aware). They are: Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, Eritrea, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kuwait, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Ireland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Suriname, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, US and Zimbabwe. We’ve hugged people from 52 of those countries so far this year, and we’re always adding new ones to our list!

With few exceptions, we’ve held all of our hugging sessions at the Homecoming Memorial on Wharf Street. It’s a good location for us, and the biggest indicator of time passing has been the growth of the little pine tree behind us. Our tree has been watching over us for a long time, even when it was too short to do so…

Nine Years of Hugging

Same hat, same jacket, same smile and no, the fence hasn’t shrunk any.

That’s it for now. Remember to hug someone you love today. Or a stranger. Or, preferably, both!

Hugs,
M&M

Free Hugs, 2018!!

Hi Folks:

Last year we were feeling pretty avant garde in having our first Free Hugs session on April 1. We did our last 2017 session on December 10, completing 19 rounds of hugging! Well, Easter is on April 1 this year (which really has us wondering what the Easter Bunny is going to get up to this year, but that’s another topic). Anyway, last weekend was so warm and beautiful we did our first 2018 hugging session on March 10! Continue Reading →

Hugging Puff…

Hi Folks:

Last Sunday was our 17th hugging session of the year, but it was remarkable in 2 other ways, too! First, we met our first Hugging Ambassadors from 2 more countries (Costa Rica and Nicaragua), bringing our total for this year to 32 countries and our combined total to 62 countries in the 8 years we’ve been doing this! Second, we had our first hugs from Puff, the Bearded Dragon (he may be a magic dragon but he doesn’t discuss such things with those he’s just met). Although you might think so, this was not our first bearded dragon hug; we got to meet and hug Puff’s compatriot, Sid, back in 2014.

Hugging Puff, the Bearded Dragon

Hugging Puff, the Bearded Dragon

As for that nimbus surrounding Marcia, well, that’s just her natural inner glow (although she doesn’t always let it be seen. ssshhh…)

Remember to hug someone you love today. Or a stranger. Or, preferably, both!

Hugs,
M&M

Sharing Kindness

Hi Folks:

Last weekend we went out for our 16th hugging session of 2017, which already doubles any other year we’ve done them (and it’s only August!!) During our last 2 sessions we also got to meet our first Hugging Ambassadors from 2 more countries (Nigeria and Turkey), bringing the number of countries we’ve hugged to 30 for this year and 60 countries in total (that we know of). It never ceases to amaze and delight us.

Sharing Kindness

Sharing Kindness

Two of the most popular questions we get from people are, “How many people have you hugged today?” (A: We have no idea. Every hug is unique and special to us) and “Why are you doing this?” There are both long and short answers to that question. The short answer is ‘kindness’. And that got us thinking about the reasons we do what we do. Continue Reading →

Free Hugs and Free Shoes!!

Hi Folks:

Free Hugs

Free Hugs!

Last weekend was our 13th Hugging session of 2017; a number that is amazing both because it’s far and away the most sessions we’ve done in any year (and it’s only mid-summer!) and because 13 is Mike’s lucky number! (nobody else wanted it 🙂 )

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Free Hugs on Canada Day!!

Hi Folks!!

Wherever you are, we trust you had a wonderful Canada Day!! It’s hard to believe that a) we’re at 150 already, and b) both of us were around for the 100th birthday!! 🙂

We invested a part of the morning and early afternoon being part of the ‘Living Flag’ on the Legislature lawn, and then, wearing our bright red Canada Day 150 T-shirts we headed off to our usual location at the Homecoming Memorial to give out some hugs! Several sections of downtown Victoria, including a portion of Wharf St. where we like to go were closed to traffic. That worked out well for us as there was no shortage of pedestrians and cyclists in a celebratory mood!

Free Hugs on Canada Day

Free Hugs on Canada Day

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Hugs With Brad

Hi Folks:

Well, it’s only mid-June but we’ve already done eight hugging sessions this year! We started on April Fool’s Day, after all. As we’ve mentioned, this is our 8th year of doing this, and so far we’ve hugged ambassadors from 57 countries (that we know of), including 21 countries so far this year! Every hug is unique and special to us, but we continue to have new experiences, like our first 3-time hugger, random hugging experiences (two strangers hugging each other, spontaneous group hugs, someone making an image of someone they don’t know hugging us, etc.)

In our last hugging session on Sunday we had two women tell us that they had already been hugged by someone else! Curious, we had to check this out for ourselves, so one at a time we went down along Wharf Street, around the corner onto Government and there we met Brad with his own Free Hugs sign! Such a treat! Brad’s been traveling to different places around the world, and wherever he goes he creates his own Free Hugs sign. At the end of each session he leaves the sign behind as incentive for someone else to pick it up and continue the tradition. We’re not sure how long Brad is in town, but we’d be more than happy to see him again and share more hugs!

Today is Victoria’s Ska & Reggae Festival, and last year it was our busiest hugging session of the year. We had line-ups of people wanting to share hugs… it was wonderful! Looking forward to a repeat this year. 🙂 Tomorrow is Car Free YYJ; maybe we’ll bring our posters down there as well! 😉

Remember to hug someone you love today. Or a stranger. Or, preferably, both!!

Hugs,
M&M

Just Singing, and Hugging… in the Rain!

Hi Folks:

Last Saturday was our fourth Free Hugs session for 2017, and it also marked a number of firsts! Our usual procedure is to arrive at the Homecoming Memorial, doff extraneous gear, coats, etc, retrieve our Free Hugs posters from their tube, then Marcia assumes her (most glorious) hugging position while Mike makes a few images. That done we wait for the first huggers to arrive. The intervening time has ranged up to several minutes, but in our last few sessions we’ve broken records for the time it takes for our first hugger. At our last session we had someone stop within seconds of getting ready, and we joked that the only way to beat that would be for someone to show up before we were ready. Well, it happened! Not only did we have our first hugger arrive before Mike had a chance to make any photographs, we had someone waiting in the wings so to speak as well! After that surprise we joked that the only way to beat that record would be for people to be there waiting for us before we arrived!!
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